There’s something special about summertime. The warm weather beckons us to spend every possible moment outdoors, including mealtimes, and that makes summer so invigorating.
Of course, as a holistic wellness coach, I encourage clients to remain mindful of choosing whole food options for casual summertime dining in favor of over-processed foods. Restriction isn’t the answer, so enjoying a stray cheese puff poolside or slapping brats on the grill for the fourth isn’t going to kill you. The 80/20 rule is where it’s at! (80% of the time eat whole, unprocessed foods while allowing yourself to indulge 20% of the time.) Life is about balance, but if you’re looking to lean into the light, care-free, feel-good vibes of summer, here are some things you may want to keep at the forefront of your mind:
- Deli meats and ready-made potato and pasta salads are frequent at summer picnics, but they’re also laden with hydrogenated oils. Trade up your deli meat sandwiches for homemade grilled versions (think grilled turkey breast on your sandwiches instead of the sliced variety from behind the deli counter) or opt for this lemon dill pasta salad in favor of the creamy stuff.
- However, restriction isn’t the answer to living your healthiest life. Mindfulness is, so if you’re craving a creamy pasta or potato salad, try making your own mayo. Instead of the highly processed canola oil called for in this recipe from Inspired Taste (and found in the stuff found at your grocery store), opt for olive oil. Not only do you gain satisfaction from listening to your cravings, but you get bragging rights for making your mayo-based salad completely from scratch, not to mention the added benefit of knowing every ingredient that went into your tasty treat!
- Notice that your appetite has decreased in warmer months? We naturally need less food in summer because our bodies absorb more energy and vitamin D from sunlight, so one way to indulge in summer’s plentitude without overwhelming the body is by enjoying ample veggies with your outdoor meals since they are light and vitamin rich.
Vitamins & Veggies
Vegetables are the perfect summertime food. They’re nutrient dense and can be grown in your backyard. You already know that vegetables are good for you, but isn’t it kinda fun to learn why? Below are 5 crucial vitamins needed to live your healthiest life and which foods to incorporate to ensure you’re eating a well-rounded diet.
Vitamin A: Found in orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, as well as dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens, these veggies support your eyesight and healthy glowing skin. Foods rich in beta carotenes like carrots and sweet potatoes also help to prevent sunburn from the inside out. (NOTE: This is not a substitute for sunscreen.)
If you notice you have dry, itchy, or scaly skin and have celiac disease, talk with your doctor about increasing your vitamin A intake.
Vitamin B: Feeling fatigued or lacking energy? Maybe your lethargy is accompanied by headaches or heart palpitations. If so, it might be time to add in foods rich in vitamin B. You can find B vitamins in leafy green veggies, peas, and beans. They include vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins play a vital role in producing red blood cells, which mobilize oxygen throughout the body. Even better still, B vitamins also boost metabolism and enable the body to create energy.
Vitamin C: Low vitamin C levels can be to blame if you find you’re getting sick all the time, bruise easily, or feel down in the dumps on the reg. The good news: Veggies brimming with vitamin C go far beyond oranges. Include more tomatoes, red bell peppers, broccoli, and cabbage into your diet to ramp up your vitamin C intake. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, helps heal injuries, and keeps tissues (like your gums and muscles) in optimum health.
Speaking of tomatoes, did you know eating a diet rich in red fruits and veggies can also help prevent sunburn? The antioxidant, lycopene, can prevent UV damage, so enjoy your red grapes, tomatoes, red bell peppers, strawberries, and watermelon knowing you’re doing good by yourself this summer!
Vitamin E: Leafy green vegetables are rich in vitamin E too. Vitamin E produces red blood cells, protects the lungs from potential damage by air pollution, and maintains the health of bodily tissues like your eyes, skin, and liver.
Vitamin K: Once again, leafy green veggies (including broccoli) are also high in vitamin K which helps the blood clot if an injury is sustained.
NOTE: If you find yourself eating a diet rich in these vitamins and still don’t feel 100%, it’s time to see a functional medicine doctor. Every human body is different, and sometimes the issue is more complex than just eating more vegetables. Unlike many general practitioners, a functional medicine doctor is a helpful ally in finding the root cause of your issue rather than masking the symptoms. Now if you find yourself struggling to implement the changes outlined by your doctor, then it’s time to see me! 😉 As a wellness coach, my specialty is supporting you in behavior change.
Eat your veggies with abandon this summer! It’s inexpensive and the perfect addition for al fresco dining. And if adding in more vegetables feels overwhelming because you’re already doing all the things, apply for 1:1 coaching. There’s a package to fit everyone’s needs! Trust the nudge, and invest in yourself. An ounce of prevention will always be worth a pound of cure.